SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
Highlights from avathArikai (Introduction)
Just as nammAzhwAr did not realise the full impact of the benediction he received after visualising emperumAn and thought about his previous state and contemplated in thiruviruththam 1 “inninRa nIrmai ini yAmuRAmai” (I cannot tolerate these lowly aspects anymore), thirumangai AzhwAr too, after being accepted by bhagavAn, contemplated his previous states and says “vAdinEn” (I suffered).
vAdinEn vAdi varundhinEn manaththAl
perundhuyar idumbaiyil piRandhu
kUdinEn kUdi iLaiyavar thammOdu
avar tharum kalaviyE karudhi
OdinEn Odi uyvadhOr poruLAl
uNarvenum perumpadham therindhu
nAdinEn nAdi nAn kaNdu koNdEn
nArAyaNA ennum nAmam
perum thuyar – being the recipient of great sorrow
idumbaiyil – in the body which is the cause for all sorrows
piRandhu – being born
kUdinEn – being unable to distinguish between body and soul, and remained closely together;
kUdi – having remained in this manner for a long time
iLaiyavar – young women
tharum – giving
kalaviyE – union only
karudhi – thinking about
avar thammOdu – following their foot steps
OdinEn – ran behind them;
Odi – in this manner, not remaining in any place, running around many matters seeking joy
manaththAl – with the intellect which was following the worldly pleasures
varundhinEn – experienced sorrow; further,
vAdinEn – suffered (like a support-less creeper);
vAdi – having suffered
uyvadhu – for being uplifted
Or poruLAl – a nice principle (sarvESvaran’s mercy)
uNarvu enum – gyAnam (knowledge)
perum – big
padham – state
therindhu nAdinEn – understood as it is, analysed “bhagavath vishayam (matters relating to bhagavAn) is good and samsAram (bondage in material world) is bad”;
nAdi – having analysed
nAn – I, who am unqualified to recite the divine name
nArAyaNA ennum – nArAyaNa
nAmam – the divine name
kaNdu koNdEn – got to see.
Being the recipient of great sorrow, being born in the body which is the cause for all sorrows, being unable to distinguish between body and soul, I remained closely together with the body; having remained in this manner for a long time, only thinking about the union given by young women, ran behind them, following their footsteps; in this manner, not remaining in any place, running around many matters seeking joy, with the intellect which was following the worldly pleasures, I experienced sorrow; further, I suffered like a support-less creeper; having suffered, I understood as it is, the great state of gyAnam with the help of a nice principle (sarvESvaran’s mercy) which leads to being uplifted, and analysed “bhagavath vishayam (matters relating to bhagavAn) is good and samsAram (bondage in material world) is bad”; having analysed, I, who am unqualified to recite the divine name, got to see the divine name, nArAyaNa.
Highlights from vyAkyAnam (Commentary)
- vAdinEn – Like a shoot which lost its supporting stem; since the AthmA cannot be destroyed, AthmA is suffering (without being fully destroyed). If emperumAn decided to protect, there is qualification in the AthmA to be protected. As every AthmA is having the apt qualification to remain with bhagavAn as sIthA pirAtti said in SrI rAmAyaNam sundhara kANdam 21.6 “ananyA rAghavENAham” (I always remain united with SrI rAma), once AzhwAr realised such relationship, there is nothing wrong in saying “vAdinEn” for having lost such enjoyment thus far. SrI rAmAyaNam ayOdhyA kANdam 17.4 “yaScha rAmam na paSyath thu” is explained here.
- rAmam – The apt target for the eyes; one who is not seeing such SrI rAma. ya: – However great he may be. thu – Even if this (seeing SrI rAma) is lost. It is specifically highlighted [with thu], to say that the loss of not being seen by SrI rAma is much greater.
- yancha rAmO napaSyathi – Even the most inferior person will not be missed by SrI rAma’s merciful glance.
- yam – However inferior he may be. The most inferior person will be seen by SrI rAma [to be blessed by him]. thiruvAimozhi 1.3.4 “yArum Or nilaimaiyan ena aRivaraiya emperumAn yArum Or nilaimaiyan ena aRiveLiya emperumAn” (Such emperumAn is having a state that is not understandable by those who are not devoted to him and is understandable by those devotees even though they may be very ignorant) – he will be beyond the knowledge of brahmA et al and will be under the auspices of cowherd girl (yaSOdhA and others) and hunter (SrI guhap perumAL and others). Irrespective of one’s greatness, if he did not have the dharSan of namperumAL’s procession at least one day, he is not great; even the most inferior person will not be missed by his glance; those who are not seen by such emperumAn, will not even be considered on a par with achith (matter). He will be counted among those who are discarded – everyone will look down upon such a person. When asked “Will he be despised only by a few like vasishta et al?”
- nindhithas sa vasEl lOkE – lOkE – nindhitha: There is none who does not despise such person. Those who are immersed in worldly pleasures, will be blamed now and will also go to hell in next life, yet he will think “I am doing something good”; will such a person [who was not seen by SrI rAma] think like that?
- svAthmApyEnam vigarhathE – He will despise himself as well. When one misses out on the thirukkaiththala sEvai (namperumAL being carried by archakas in their hands), one will think “I who missed to witness today’s procession can live through death if I get camphor and lemon (as prasAdham from emperumAn]”; if these are the words of those who lost just one puRappAdu (procession) of namperumAL, the one who lost bhagavAn forever cannot say anything other than “vAdinEn“.
- vAdinEn – What state of AzhwAr does this word represent? When he was enjoying worldly pleasures, since he remained joyfully at that state, there is no suffering then; after starting to enjoy bhagavAn, there is no suffering; hence this is the state where AzhwAr had acquired knowledge about the true nature of the self and then contemplated about his previous situation. Only while attaining the ultimate result, will the previous situations not be remembered anymore; such previous remembrance will not occur as said in chAndhOgya upanishath 8.12.3 “nOpajanam smaran idham SarIram” (AthmA will not contemplate about the material body after reaching the spiritual realm); since AzhwAr acquired true knowledge, his previous situations appear to him in front of his eyes.
- vAdi – The repetition of this word can be combined with both the previous and subsequent words; it appears to be implying that this loss has been occurring forever and is also causing subsequent disaster; it appears to be implying that this attachment to worldly pleasures was not just occasional, but would redeem oneself after atoning, but was occurring forever; and not stopping with that, it appears to be hinting at the further disaster it is causing.
When asked “What is the subsequent disaster?”, AzhwAr says,
- varundhinEn manaththAl – I experienced suffering in the mind too. Senses will be attached to worldly pleasures, and while trying to enjoy them, they will fail, and even if they succeed, there is no real enjoyment in these pleasures; I suffered in my mind also; since I was unable to divert the mind which is the root of all senses, to focus internally, I suffered in my mind. With this, it is explained that being engaged in worldly pleasures like Sabdha (sound) etc [sparSa (touch), rUpa (form), rasa (taste) and gandha (fragrance)], I was unable to think about the divine feet of emperumAn.
- perum thuyar idumbaiyil piRandhu – [This body, i.e. matter] caused taste in worldly pleasures, created impressions, increased desire and hatred, and due to the ignorance and virtuous/vicious acts being the cause for the occurrence of [another, repeated] body, I took birth. Both thuyar and idumbai mean sorrow; with this, the body is both the abode of sorrow and the cause for sorrow. Being capable of being both the abode of sorrow and the cause for subsequent countless sorrows.
Why did AzhwAr say “vAdinEn” first instead of saying “perum thuyar idumbaiyil piRandhu kUdi, vAdinEn“? As the relationship with karma is beginning-less and connection with achith (matter) is also pravAha rUpENa nithyam (it is eternal in a continuous stream of births), AzhwAr is just picking something in the middle and is starting with that.
- piRandhu – Though AthmA has no birth and death, he is said to be born and dead, in prevalent terms as spoken by everyone. [It is really, acquiring body and relinquishing the same]
- kUdinEn – AthmA who is eternal, in a singular form and is identified by his knowledge and bliss, and is subservient to bhagavAn, is said as celestial being, human being and so on.
- kUdinEn – AthmA remained so closely united with the body, that one thinks that the AthmA cannot exist without the body.
- kUdinEn – By saying kUdinEn – it appears that, this [material body] is not natural for the AthmA, is acquired due to a reason and is extraneous. When Iron is heated, the fire sparks subtly enter the iron and due to the close connection, iron acquires the heat and colour of the fire. Similarly, this AthmA too, due to being together with achith, has become like achith to be called as achith. Just as the iron loses the colour but remains hot for a long time, even after fire sparks leave the iron, AthmA considers self to body for sometime even after acquiring knowledge.
- kUdi – Remaining together to be unable to tolerate the separation from body. After acquiring knowledge, one will pray hard to have the body removed. In this “kUdi“, it appears that the togetherness of AthmA and achith is forever and so is the subsequent disaster which occurred.
When asked “What is the subsequent disaster?”, AzhwAr says,
- iLaiyavar thammOdu avar tharum kalaviyE karudhi OdinEn – iLaiyavar (youth) – To be unable to analyse that attachment towards worldly pleasures is disaster, and to be unable to understand the greatness of bhagavath vishayam and engage in it, the young girls will show their youth and attract.
- thammOdu – Whatever is said in mUla samhithA “chAyAvA sathvam anugachchEth” (like a shadow following its owner), is all observed towards these young women; when they find a nice garland, instead of decorating themselves with that or considering themselves as respectable, they will offer it to the women. Whatever is said in parama samhithA “yEna yEna dhAthA gachchathi thEna thEna saha gachchathi” (wherever the lord goes, the servitor follows), is observed towards these young women.
- avar tharum kalavi – While initially being approached, they will speak sweet words, but once the person is trapped, they will move away, to increase the longing in the person.
- kalaviyE karudhi – Here the usage of the word “karudhi” (contemplating) is significant. Only if they could enjoy, could that be highlighted. Here, only the man is desiring for such union. Since the man has committed sins, he can only desire and the enjoyment will not occur. When there is no scope for enjoyment, the man should withdraw from the efforts. But as they keep moving away, the man’s desires will increase further considering “there is some enjoyment”. This is due to his own sins.
When the man understands that there is nothing enjoyable in a woman, he should withdraw from further efforts to get her. Instead of doing that, the man will seek the next woman and keep on doing the same thing.
- OdinEn – This worldly enjoyment is not of a nature to retain the enjoyer for more than a fraction of a moment; union with woman is such that, one will have to carry the tools for enjoyment with her, and after enjoyment, one should bathe to purify oneself. Knowing well the defects of such union, to cover it up, one carries perfumes and so on and tries to enjoy with her. Even what is perceivable by the senses (i.e. the defects) are unable to help [in stopping from the indulgence]. Though one does not need SAsthram to understand the defects of these aspects and can perceive directly with one’s own senses, they remain irresistible! Attachment for worldly pleasures is similar to a snake with open hoods. While it is waiting to swallow the prey, the prey will go and hide under the shade of its hoods. The joy acquired in this worldly pleasures is similar to a person who is about to be hanged, but feeling thirsty, becomes satisfied on quenching his thirst. One is perceiving that among the many sorrows, a particular aspect is joyful. The real bliss is explained in SrIvishNu purANam 6.5.59 “sukhabhAvaika lakshaNA” (bhagavath vishayam is the real bliss).
- Odi – It appears that even though this has been the routine forever, somehow, it has led to some goodness. I ran away escaping the helping hands of sarvESvaran himself who comes saying “I will protect”.
- uyvadhu Or poruLAl – When I ran behind the worldly pleasures being immersed in them and fell down out of fatigue, emperumAn protected me due to his mercy having that as the reason saying “Now, he will not be able to withdraw from this on his own”. With the good principle which leads to being uplifted. Good principle is bhagavath krupai. Due to respect, AzhwAr is indicating it in a concealed manner; in the fourth pAsuram, he will explicitly identify it as “AzhiyAn aruL” (mercy of one who carries sudharSana chakra). nammAzhwAr, being unable to wait any further, explicitly mentioned in thiruvAimozhi 1.1.1 “mayarvaRa madhi nalam aruLinan” (emperumAn granted me knowledge which is well-matured as devotion). I got an opportunity for being uplifted while I was engaged in sinful activities which lead to self-destruction as said in periya thirumozhi 1.9.2 “nAnE nAnAvidha naragam pugum pAvam seydhEn” (I committed many sins which will lead me to many hell) and thiruvAimozhi 6.9.9 “pala nI kAttip paduppAyO” (Will you keep me in this samsAram, showing many of these worldly aspects?). While I remained as said in thaithtirIya upanishath “asannEva bhavathi” (he is as good as non-existing), a good principle to make me as said in thaiththirIya upanishath “santhamEnam thathOvidhu:” (he is known to be existing), occurred.
- uNarvenum perum padham – jithanthE sthOthram 1-11 “vigyAnam yadhidham” (this great knowledge). Just as flood enters the place where one is sleeping on a mat [unexpectedly].
- perum padham – The greatness of this is such that we can say “Even he is not required, knowledge about him is sufficient”.
- thirindhu – Since worldly pleasures are with boundary, I returned after realising that there is nothing to enjoy in them.
- therindhu – Alternative for thirindhu. In this case, once knowledge dawned, everything was understood clearly. It appears that hence, previous situations were considered as darkness.
- nAdinEn – As the knowledge dawned, I started analysing “What did I go through previously? What am I going to suffer in future?”
- nAdi – In the worldly pleasures, even when I consciously tried to get them, since it only leads to disaster, there is no result; but when I set out to engage in bhagavath vishayam, it leads to result.
- nAn – I who said “OdinEn“. Just as the one (SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn) who ate the remnants of rAvaNa in his palace for a long time, became part of rAma gOshti (SrIrAma’s team), even without taking a bath. vElvetti nambiyAr (A SrIvaishNava), once on a thirukkArthigai day, sent a message through a person to nampiLLai who was mercifully stationed in a village which was located east of SrIrangam. The message read “If I asked this question to anyone, they will think that I am ignorant and that there is none who can clarify this doubt; you should clarify this doubt”. The question is “When perumAL (SrI rAma) surrendered to the ocean,he followed proper rules such as facing east etc and surrendered; is this prapaththi (surrender) also having prerequisites, like rest of the upAyams (means)?” nampiLLai mercifully explained – this is not a prerequisite for prapaththi, this happened due to the nature of those who pursued the means; as the rAkshasa clan is lowly and unqualified, SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn who is one among the clan advised SrI rAma as said in SrI rAmAyaNam yudhdha kANdam 19.31 “samudhram rAghavO rAjA SaraNam gandhumarhathi” (SrI rAma should surrender to the king of ocean); we did not see SrI vibhIshaNAzhwAn following any rules and we saw SrI rAma following the rules”. With this, it is explained that, for prapaththi, an unqualified person need not earn qualification and a qualified person need not give up his qualification. Everyone is qualified as (s)he is. That is, this prapaththi can be pursued by everyone.
- kaNdu koNdEn – AzhwAr says so since it feels as if a wealth-less person is acquiring wealth and as if that wealth is hereditary.
- nAn kaNdu koNdEn – Feels as if the one who lost it himself found it.
- nArAyaNA – Since there is no praNavam, nama: and chathurthi (to make it complete ashtAksharam), just accepting that we are part of his wealth (which is indicated by the divine name, nArAyaNa) is sufficient; implies that, to acquire the result, the limbs of the manthram are not required.
- ennum nAmam – “ennum” highlights the renowned nature of this divine name which is revealed in nArAyaNa anuvAkam (sUktham) which does not speak about anyone else. “nAmam” implies that it is desirable as it is, the right time is when the person acquires desire and the person who sets out to recite the name is the qualified person. nanjIyar asked parASara bhattar “Should one be pure while reciting thirumanthram or is that not required?” bhattar mercifully explained “Not required. When one goes to take sacred bath in gangA, should he first take bath in a water-body before? When it is ready to bestow great benefits now, will it also not bestow the qualifications which are required?”
In the next article we will enjoy the next pAsuram.
adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan
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